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Trust your instincts?


M6 Motorway England

When I took this photograph, I intended to drive on the motorway that day; but my instincts told me otherwise. The vehicles were speeding past and it looked positively dangerous as they drove too close to one another. I decided against using the motorway that day. Where my instincts right? Was it too dangerous?

Most of the drivers on the motorway think, it will never happen to them. They won’t be the driver in the accident, they are good drivers, it won’t happen to them.  I do tend to think I’m not stupid enough to tailgate other cars in the outside lane and so I am a little safer than many of those drivers. It didn’t seem safe enough that day, the risk didn’t seem justified.

Alarms bells were rung by my subconscious mind, but if I drove more on the motorway without incident those alarm bells would soon quieten as I got used to it. That is the same for many things, some people can go on those terrifying rides at theme parks and find them exciting rather than terrifying. Some people love to fly all over the world, but others recognise the dangers and their subconscious minds make them very nervous of flying and tries to keep them safe.

One well-known journalist flew all over the world to war zones, not only risking his life in wars, but also on planes. That was until he went to cover a plane crash and saw the danger of air travel for real; the carnage of an air crash, the bodies and the blood, brought home to him the realities of the risks associated with air travel. He couldn’t travel by air after that. His subconscious made him too anxious. Was this a phobia or was his subconscious right? Should we always listen to our instincts or should we challenge them?

Agoraphobics are too anxious to leave their homes or at least not go too far from them. They instinctively want the security of their comfort zone and that is usually their home.  A relatively minor incident while they are out can trigger this kind of phobia, it can be anything that makes them feel threatened or anxious. They feel extremely anxious and naturally they want to be back home, safe and secure. Then their subconscious mind makes them feel that they should avoid that feeling of extreme anxiety or panic again and makes them anxious every time they try to do out. Some agoraphobics can go out, but have a limit to how far they can go from their comfort zone.

The only way forward when you have problems like this is to reassure your subconscious that nothing bad will happen. For me that means driving on the motorway more and if it’s incident free I can feel less nervous about it. For some people overcoming their phobia might mean taking the first step out of their front door alone. Overcoming a fear of flying is a lot more difficult, it might mean taking a short flight and then building up to longer flights. It might mean doing a special course that helps you become familiar with the inside of an aircraft. Unfamiliarity tends to make us anxious and so that can help.

Overcoming many of these problems is about familiarity, it might be becoming familiar with the surroundings in a hospital if they make you nervous, the inside of a plane or the openness of walking down a street.  Our subconscious minds are our friends, they try to keep us safe, but sometimes we have to take the risks that are involved in living a normal life.

Please comment if you have problems like this. There is another psychology blog about colours on a zillion ideas today, check it out!

3 responses

  1. For the record, I hate the prospect of flying.

    3, September 2012 at 3:39 pm

    • Hi Nick,

      I think it’s for the birds too. :)

      3, September 2012 at 7:33 pm

  2. Pingback: Weekend roundup « Mike10613's Blog

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